My Own Nairobi

colorized ripples on a stream surface

“How is it possible to bring order out of memory.”
          ~Beryl Markham, West with the Night.

In the mud on the bottom of my boots,
I spot a flake of gold mixed in.

I take a sharp knife and loosen it out
staring at it as if it were an entire nugget.

I hammer a stake into the ground to lay
my claim expecting a vein of gold.

Near the riverbed, I notice an abandoned
campfire with its grey ashes smoking.

Someone stuck a wooden matchstick
into the dirt headfirst to put it out.

Look over there, there by the saltlick
where I used to lay old apples for the deer:

human footprints. Were there others panning
for gold fragments on the river bank?

Did they find what they were looking for?
Is it possible they were looking for me?

©2018 by Jimmy Pappas


Jimmy Pappas is a member of the board for the Poetry Society of New Hampshire. His poem “Bobby’s Story” was voted Rattle‘s prestigious Readers Choice Award for 2017.

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